Make no mistake, choosing the right  marketing and business development coach can make or break your efforts.

This week we asked: What do you think is the greatest benefit of a marketing consultant?

1. Help with writing a plan – 0%

2. Keeping me on track – 0%

3. Bringing new ideas to the table – 0%

4. All of the above – 90%

5. I don’t see the benefit – 10%

My Thoughts: Wow!!! I’m thrilled 90% of you said "all of the above" would be the greatest benefit of a coach. It’s clear that we ALL need help to stay on track… I have 2 coaches and I can tell you their insights are invaluable to me. So how do you select one? Well, allow me to explain.

The most important part of the equation is the partnership between you and your marketing coach or consultant. That’s why you must take extra care to choose the right person for your personality, your practice and your goals. Here are a few tips:

Do your research. Get to know their ideas and strategies. If you’re going to take advice from someone, know who that person is and how he or she gets their points across. Do you like their tone? Does what they preach make sense to you? If not, keep looking.

Look into their background. Do they specialize in legal marketing or marketing in general? How many lawyers or law firms have they worked with? Marketing attorneys isn’t the same as selling cars or other consumer products, it is a category all its own.

Evaluate their services and relationships. Look into exactly what it is you’re getting for the money. Some may see themselves only as coaches. Still others may offer public relations or advertising services as part of their firm. Think about what you need and how all aspects of marketing work together.

Listen to what they’re asking YOU.
Before embarking on a plan, your consultant has to know you inside and out. In your first few meetings listen carefully to what they’re asking you. Are they asking the right questions to understand your daily business life? Are they delving into your clients, your referral sources, and your hobbies and interests to see where growth can be accomplished? Or are they simply skimming the superficial?

Go with your gut.
As I mentioned above, you’re entering into a relationship, and as with any relationship… you have to trust your instincts. Beyond the pitches and the samples and the strategy-do you LIKE this person? More importantly, do you TRUST this person with your business development future? If not… walk away. You must be completely open with your consultant… comfortable collaborating and discussing your everyday business life. You have to be willing to commit to taking advice and guidance before you can enter into a successful partnership.

Still not sure if you need a consultant?  Read what Doug Ward of Rogers Towers has to say… and think about which "group" you’re in:

When you have busy lawyers, sometimes the last thing they want to do is try to market their services.  You have some lawyers who don’t think about marketing at all and think that the business will somehow materialize on its own. You have others who agree that marketing is beneficial, but say, ‘I don’t know when I’m going to be able to come up for air, let alone think and talk about marketing.’  Then you have a group who says it’s critical and make a concerted effort to help the marketing process along.

Black Pearl: For more on choosing the right consultant, read this.